West Seneca Planning Board Meeting Minutes 07/10/2008
Chairman Robert Niederpruem called the meeting to order at 7:30 P.M. followed by the Pledge to the Flag.
ROLL CALL: Present -
William P. Czuprynski, Code Enforcement Officer
Paul Notaro, Deputy Town Attorney
Andrew Reilly, Planning Consultant
Absent - Anthony Nigro
Chairman Robert Niederpruem read the Fire Prevention Code instructing the public where to exit in case of a fire or other emergency.
APPROVAL OF PROOFS OF PUBLICATION
Motion by Rathmann, seconded by Ciancio, to approve the proofs of publication and posting of legal notice.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Motion by Mendola, seconded by Rathmann, to approve Minutes #2008-06 of June 12, 2008.
OLD BUSINESS COMMUNICATIONS
SPR2007-04A request from F.R.A. Engineering for site plan approval for property located at 55 Angle Road, for a 4-building, 32-unit apartment complex.
Chairman Niederpruem stated that this project was previously approved by the Planning Board as a 3-building, 24-unit apartment complex. The applicant had worked an agreement for additional property and was returning to the Planning Board for approval of a fourth building.
Attorney Ralph Lorigo, 101 Slade Avenue, represented Young Development Inc., the property owner and applicant, and stated that the only change in their plan was that the location of the garages was now the location of the fourth building and the garages were eliminated. They had received full engineering approval from the Town Engineering Department. Mr. Lorigo indicated on the plan the land to the east of the property that was added to allow for the needed bulk area, 103’ x the full width of the property. This additional property provided 76 percent of the Town Code’s requirement, which was the exact same density as that of the Fox Trace complex on Southwestern Blvd. The density prior to this addition was around 60 percent.
Deputy Town Attorney Paul Notaro calculated the density at 78.9 percent and the original plan at 66 percent. This compromise was worked out before Judge Mahoney and they were to return to the Planning Board for site plan review.
Mr. Greenan questioned if the compromise included rezoning the additional parcel.
Mr. Notaro advised that the additional parcel did not need a rezoning because none of the units would be located on it.
Mr. Lorigo stated that the additional parcel was deeded over for bulk area and no units could be put on that parcel.
Mr. Greenan understood the compromise to be that the increase in bulk area was not for the apartments to be placed on it, it was only to add more buffer zone and the town was ordered by the Judge to approve this.
Code Enforcement Officer William Czuprynski noted that the detention pond for the storage facility was located on the parcel that was being deeded over to the apartment complex and he would like something on file in his office stating that they would have access to the detention pond if something were to happen to it.
Mr. Notaro stated that this was provided for in the deed.
Mr. Mendola questioned changes in the lighting for the project.
Mr. Notaro stated that the only addition to the lighting was the downward doorway lighting.
Mr. Mendola stated that they had re-evaluated the intersection between Building #1 and #2 for emergency vehicle access and now there was an entrance between Building #3 and #4 that might cause the same problem. The fire trucks would need a larger turning radius than what was presented.
Mr. Notaro did not believe this was an accurate statement because when the original application was submitted with the garages, an adjustment was made to allow access to the second area after a discussion with Reserve Fire Chief Boltz.
Mr. Mendola stated that Chief Boltz addressed the issue with the garages, but they were now gone and there was a different design on the curbing.
Mr. Notaro did not believe the design of the curbing was different or that the turning radius was reduced in any way, but they could make the approval contingent upon Chief Boltz’ approval of the turning radius.
Mr. Mendola did not believe that Chief Boltz had seen the plan with the four buildings.
Mr. Notaro stated that he spoke with Chief Boltz on this issue and he had reviewed the original four building plan and then the three building plan. They had also spoken with the engineers to ensure that the turning radius was adequate for the fire department, but they could grant approval conditioned on Chief Boltz reviewing the plans again.
Motion by Ciancio, seconded by Mendola, to issue a Negative Declaration with regard to SEQR for the proposed 4-building, 32-unit apartment complex located at 55 Angle Road.
Motion by Greenan, seconded by Mendola, to grant site plan approval for the proposed 4-building, 32-unit apartment complex located at 55 Angle Road, with a condition that no building permit be issued until the Code Enforcement Officer is notified that the fire department has no objection to the existence of the curbs as shown in the final plan.
SPR2008-04A request from Ellicott Development Company for site plan approval for property located at 162 Slade Avenue, for a 6-story, 105 +/- room hotel.
Chairman Niederpruem stated that this request was previously approved by the Planning Board but was rescinded at the last meeting due to some procedural errors.
Deputy Town Attorney Paul Notaro stated that when the site plan was approved in March 2008, the Planning Board neglected to make a determination on the SEQR. The town had not obtained advice or direction on the SEQR from any involved agencies, and they could not simply go back and issue a Negative Declaration to fix the mistake. On his recommendation, the Planning Board rescinded approval of the site plan at their last meeting. Mr. Notaro spoke with Carl Paladino of Ellicott Development Company and his attorney on a number of occasions and the town was working to accomplish the coordinated review as required under SEQR. The town had received an Article 78 lawsuit for actions the Planning Board took and this would be heard at the Supreme Court next month. Mr. Notaro stated that in an attempt to rectify the situation, the town was working with Wendel Duchscherer to get the appropriate documentation from the different governmental agencies to complete the SEQR determination. He recommended that this item be tabled pending receipt of this documentation, and if necessary, call a special meeting to keep the process moving.
Chairman Niederpruem commented that at this point the Planning Board did not have anything different than what they had in March when they granted site plan approval.
Mr. Notaro agreed and stated that the Planning Board would have to acknowledge that they were the Lead Agency for SEQR so they could finish the review.
Planning Consultant Andrew Reilly stated that when they researched the town’s records for this project there was only a short form environmental impact statement on file. They were in the process of generating additional information and documentation for the Planning Board to make a cognizant decision on SEQR, and he hoped to have this by the next meeting.
Carl Paladino of Ellicott Development commented that they came to the town in good faith, did everything they were told to do on this project, and he thought they were being treated wrongly. Mr. Paladino stated that the delays they suffered up until now were costing close to $300,000 and it was because of the town’s inaction, not the developer’s inaction. He knew that a SEQR was done by the West Seneca School Board in connection with the sale of the property and thought that everything was fine. Based upon the town’s action, he proceeded to buy the property for close to $1,200,000. Construction plans were submitted to Code Enforcement Officer William Czuprynski and they were told that at his discretion, there had to be a 40-foot setback on the rear property lines of the residential properties along Slade Avenue that were zoned commercial. The building plans had already been prepared with placement of the building and its entire design and they could not just slice off a piece of the building to meet the 40-foot setback. The building had to be redesigned and moved to another location on the site, costing a delay of 60 days and lot of money. Mr. Paladino felt that the statute of limitations for a defective SEQR had passed.
Mr. Notaro responded that Mr. Paladino thought the statute of limitations was 30 days, but in his opinion it was six months and he did not believe they were past that. He had spoken to Mr. Paladino’s attorney about this and was trying to resolve this.
Mr. Paladino believed it was 30 days and stated that the case could not be heard until the end of the month. The Planning Board rescinded the site plan review at their last meeting, but he was not informed about their action until after the fact. Mr. Paladino had spoken with Mr. Czuprynski earlier that week and was informed that they could proceed with site work and would have a building permit by Friday morning.
Chairman Niederpruem stated that the Planning Board was trying to follow procedures according to the law.
Mr. Paladino thought it was very clear in the law that the time for anyone to appeal the Planning Board’s decision was 30 days and if he had been notified of their intention at the last meeting he would have appeared to argue that. He asked that the Planning Board allow the project to proceed so they could obtain a building permit, noting that the delays were costing a lot of money and making them unable to get the building enclosed during the construction season.
Chairman Niederpruem stated that unfortunately he could not go against the advice of Mr. Notaro or the law.
Motion by Greenan, seconded by Rathmann, to table this item until the next meeting.
NEW BUSINESS COMMUNICATIONS
2008-05A request from Philip Badame for a rezoning for property located at 2437 Berg Road, being part of Lot No. 417, changing its classification from R-60 to C-2, for parking of boats, trailers, cars.
Chairman Niederpruem stated that the Planning Board was in receipt of a legal description for the property, a short environmental assessment form, a survey, and another survey with elevations and an outline of the proposal.
Motion by Mendola, seconded by Ciancio, to open the public hearing.
On the question, Mr. Greenan questioned if this application had properly gone before the Town Board.
Chairman Niederpruem noted that procedurally the application had to be presented to the Town Board for referral to the Planning Board, but it had bypassed the Town Board so the Planning Board was unable to entertain the application at this time.
Motion by Ciancio, seconded by Mendola, to refer this application to the Town Board at their next meeting.
2008-06A request from Silvestri Architects, PC for a rezoning & special permit for property located at 4592 Seneca Street, being part of Lot No. 223, changing its classification from R-75 to R-50(S), for a two-story, 76-unit senior residential building.
Chairman Niederpruem stated that the Planning Board was in receipt of a legal description for the property, an environmental assessment form, a site plan, a survey, and proposed building layouts. He further noted that the next project was for the same parcel of land, so everything discussed on the current project would again be discussed with the next project.
Ken Franasiak, CEO & President of Calamar, the developer and operator of the proposed project, stated that they were headquartered in the Town of Wheatfield, employed 160 people, and had been developing and operating senior housing in WNY for 18 years. The proposed 76-unit, 2-story senior housing project will be located on a 6.2 acre parcel at the rear of 4592 Seneca Street. He presented a photo of a similar project recently completed in Wheatfield and stated that the building was no higher than a normal 2-story home. There will be 40 one-bedroom and 36 two-bedroom units, a community room, garages, exercise room, library, laundry, emergency call system, a non-smoking wing, an on-site manager, and a programming service to provide the residents with field trips and transportation in and out of the property. Mr. Franasiak stated that there will be 139 parking spaces, including the garages, as required by the Town Code; however, most of the individuals that will reside at the project were elderly women that no longer drive. He commented that from a zoning standpoint, the project was a low impact use. It will add value to the tax base, create jobs during the construction, and not have children using the schools. Mr. Franasiak commented on the large population of senior citizens wanting to remain in their community and the waiting lists at other senior facilities. A study completed by the NYS Comptroller’s Office indicated that by the year 2012, senior housing throughout
NYS will be completely inadequate. Mr. Franasiak stated that one of the concerns expressed to him was the topography of the site and issues related to drainage. He indicated a proposed detention pond at the middle of the site that would alleviate the drainage issues that exist. Placement of the building was moved away from the residences to create a buffer on all sides with a berm to shield the residents from the project.
Chairman Niederpruem questioned if this plan was coordinated with the People Inc. project on the front parcel and if there would be a common driveway, water tap, sewer, etc.
Mr. Franasiak responded that there would be separate driveways for the projects along with water taps and sewer taps.
Mr. Ciancio commented that the R-50 zoning had more density than the R-75 zoning, so he disagreed with Mr. Franasiak’s statement that this was a lower impact zoning. He further commented that they were catering to the upcoming generation of seniors, but that was only going to last about ten years, and he questioned what would happen to these buildings when the need was no longer there. Mr. Ciancio stated that 123 units for the entire parcel was a lot and this project alone with 76-units was over the density by 30 percent.
Chairman Niederpruem questioned if there was any type of coordinated review with the Senior Citizens Center since 123 senior residences were being moved to their neighborhood.
Jocelyn Bos, Housing Director with People Inc., 1219 N. Forest Drive, Williamsville, stated that many of the individuals that will reside in their complex were currently West Seneca residents and already attended the Senior Citizens Center.
Mr. Franasiak agreed and stated that usually 80 percent of the residents are from the town where the facility is built.
Mr. Mendola commented that the fire department was interested in this project and noted that there was no access provided to the rear of the building in case of a fire.
Mr. Franasiak stated that Fire Inspector John Gullo reviewed the plans and did not have a problem with them.
Mr. Mendola could not believe that Mr. Gullo approved the plans and noted that they had rejected many previous plans for senior housing that did not have access to the rear of the building. He further commented that lighting would be an issue since the project abutted residential property, drainage would be an issue for the Sky Hi Drive residents, and traffic would be an issue.
Mr. Rathmann understood there were hydric soils on site.
Mr. Franasiak stated that a wetlands study was completed and the project did not impact any type of jurisdictional wetlands, but this would be part of the SEQR process as they proceeded with the project.
Mr. Rathmann commented on other senior housing complexes in the town and thought they were an intrusion to the environment because they were so enormous. He did not think there was anything that could be done to the building to make it less intrusive to the single family residential rural setting.
Code Enforcement Officer William Czuprynski stated that the minimum frontage along Seneca Street was 90 feet for the number of units, so there was not sufficient frontage for the project and not enough bulk area. He further noted that the garages were not counted as parking spaces because they were not free to the residents.
Ms. Bos questioned if the lot could be considered a flag lot.
Mr. Czuprynski advised that a flag lot was only for residential, single family homes.
Planning Consultant Andrew Reilly stated that the Town Board reviewed the project, voted to entertain it, and forwarded the request to the Planning Board. There was nothing in the Comprehensive Plan stating that they couldn’t do the project, but that did not mean that they could. They would be generating information and getting input from other agencies during the SEQR process and the Code Enforcement Office and Engineering Department would also be reviewing the project. When all the information is received, the Planning Board will make their recommendation to the Town Board on SEQR and the rezoning, and the Town Board will then hold a public hearing and make a decision on the SEQR and the rezoning. The Planning Board was aware of the sewer and drainage issues and would be questioning other issues like water capacity, access for fire apparatus, traffic, parking, and a need for this type of housing. There was also a concern for the aesthetics in the neighborhood and they may require some visualization as to what the project will look like from the rear yards of the surrounding residents. Mr. Reilly further noted that although this project and the next were two separate projects, they would be combining them with regard to SEQR so the cumulative impact will be looked at.
2008-06 & 2008-07 (continued)
Motion by Greenan, seconded by Rathmann, to combine the public hearings for Item #2008-06 & #2008-07.
Motion by Greenan, seconded by Mendola, to open the public hearing for Item #2008-07.
2008-07A request from People, Inc. for a rezoning & special permit for property located at 4592 Seneca Street, being part of Lot No. 223, changing its classification from R-75 to R-50(S), for a senior independent living facility.
Jocelyn Bos, Housing Director at People, Inc., 1219 N. Forest Drive, Williamsville, stated that they had originally proposed a three-story building with 50 units for this site, but the Town Board thought that this would be too oppressive, so it was reduced to a two-story building with 47 units. This would meet the density requirement if the rezoning is granted. They were applying for HUD Section 202 funding, which meant that the project was designed for individuals 62 years and older that are income eligible. The income levels were established on an annual basis and right now one person could not make more than $21,300 and two people more than $24,350. They would not hear on the funding until October or November. This would be People, Inc.’s 19th senior housing complex; they currently had over 750 units in Niagara and Erie County. Ms. Bos commented on the need for this type of housing and stated that they currently had a waiting list of 75 for their facility at 2290 Union Road. Since the year 2000 to present, although the population in West Seneca declined 2.5 percent, seniors went up 7.37 percent and 18.8 percent of the population of West Seneca was now 65 years and older. Of the 5638 seniors, 4164 were income eligible for this housing.
Chairman Niederpruem stated that the wetlands, frontage, density, traffic, sewer, water, and drainage were all issues on this project as well.
Mr. Mendola referred to Ms. Bos’ statement that there were 75 applicants on the waiting list for their other West Seneca facility, and he questioned how many of those were from West Seneca.
2008-06 & 2008-07 (continued)
Ms. Bos responded that of the original individuals living at the 2290 Union Road facility, 24 were from Cheektowaga, 18 from West Seneca, 8 from Buffalo, 3 from Hamburg, two from Depew, one from Getzville, one from Lockport, one from Blasdell, and one from out-of-state that moved back to town. She did not know the demographics on those individuals on the waiting list but offered to find out that information.
Mr. Czuprynski noted that recently the Senior Citizens Center had a problem with traffic in that area of Seneca Street, so traffic would be an issue with this project. He further questioned if People, Inc. paid taxes and noted that he recently met with representatives from the senior citizens complex on Union Road near the other complex operated by People, Inc. and they were paying $160,000 in taxes.
Ms. Bos stated that the corporation was a 501-C3 tax exempt organization and they only paid special district taxes.
Mr. Ciancio commented that this project was also over on the density and combined with the other project there were 123 units, which he thought was too many for the site.
Mr. Reilly stated that for a mixed use district the Town Code required 400 sf per unit of open space or recreation area. He questioned if that would apply to this project.
Mr. Czuprynski responded that this requirement normally applied to an apartment complex.
Mr. Mendola questioned if there would be sprinklers in the buildings.
Mr. Czuprynski advised that NYS Code required sprinklers in the buildings. He further questioned who would take care of the detention ponds.
Ms. Bos responded that they had not yet done any in depth engineering, but their intent was to share the drainage system with one detention pond. The pond would be located on their property, so they would be responsible for it.
Mr. Rathmann questioned if there was any intended use for the parcel of land left between the two projects.
Ms. Bos stated that they were originally thinking about having a common driveway, but someone told them they had to have separate entrances. By doing that, 60 feet was cut off and that would remain green space.
2008-06 & 2008-07 (continued)
Mr. Reilly stated that the Town Code required that they have frontage on the parcel, not that they have separate driveways.
Mr. Czuprynski thought that the frontage for the projects could have been divided in such a way that no variance would be required.
Mr. Mendola referred to the sanitary sewer that ran through the middle of the project and stated that the sewer line would have to be televised. He thought the Engineering Department would cooperate if the project were approved, and if they cleared and grubbed the town would go in and televise it and repair any broken sewers so they did not have a sewer that was under 200’ of pavement and within 20 feet of the corner of the building.
Bruce McPherson, 187 Sky Hi Drive, stated that when he bought his house it was understood that the property behind it was residential, but now business was being proposed and one of the businesses would remove the property from the tax rolls. Mr. McPherson presented a petition opposing the rezoning and commented that the consensus of the neighborhood was that they would like the property to remain as it is and he hoped that the town would not ignore those people that paid taxes. He further noted that the original property owner was a farmer and it was his intention that the property not be used for a commercial entity such as this. Mr. McPherson thought that his wishes should be honored. He also expressed concern over the detention pond and the possibility of it drawing mosquitoes.
Linda Golinski, 23 Donald Drive, questioned what projects like these would do to the property values of the homeowners that have lived there for a while.
Chairman Niederpruem thought this was a very valid question and something that the Planning Board would inquire about.
Jim Bukaty, 15 Muriel Drive, stated that he lived in his home since 1974 and understood that when the subdivision was built the developer took about five feet of topsoil off the site, making it sit five to six feet lower than the property in question. He has always had a drainage problem and the town has never taken care of it for him. Several years ago Mr. Bukaty paid a contractor to have some drainage work done and all of his neighbors have a similar drainage problem. He questioned if these projects would magnify their problems and make them worse than they already were. Mr. Bukaty also commented on the potential fire hazard, lighting, parking, sewers, and property values that were of concern. He questioned the distance from the back of the property to the existing residential property behind it.
2008-06 & 2008-07 (continued)
Chairman Niederpruem stated that the front building looked like it was 92’ from the property line and the closest the rear building got to the property line was 70 feet. The plan showed approximately a 28’ buffer.
Patricia Bittar of Wm. Schutt & Associates stated that the distance from the proposed garages to the back of the structure was 83’ and 44’ to the property line.
Julie Borosko, 55 Sky Hi Drive, presented pictures of flooding in her neighborhood and commented on the drainage issue.
Brian Wirth, 42 Westminster Road, stated that he is a local realtor and he thought the proposed projects would have a direct negative effect on the surrounding residential property values. Prospective home buyers looked at their surroundings because they were concerned about what they would have to look at every day and a two-story complex would not be a very desirable view.
Chairman Niederpruem questioned where they could obtain statistics that supported Mr. Wirth’s comment.
Mr. Wirth stated that they would have to look at another senior complex located in a similar situation.
Susan Itzenplitz, 152 Sky Hi Drive, questioned if People, Inc. was the same organization that owned the group home at 159 Sky Hi Drive and if the neighbors could expect the same cooperation with the new residence. She referred to the constant traffic from staff members and vans and commented on a specific incident when a van backed into her vehicle while she was in her driveway.
Jim Smith, 4510 Seneca Street, stated that he recently sold his house at 4514 Seneca Street and he submitted photos indicating the water that runs through the property. There was a 30-inch line that ran under Sky Hi Drive and the tile was broken. Mr. Smith also expressed concern about the sanitary sewer and commented on the water pressure on Seneca Street that was 62 lbs. at the hydrant. He questioned what effect the proposed residences would have on the water pressure.
Beatrice Redzikowski, 2290 Union Road, stated that she was a tenant at People Inc.’s residence in Hamburg for 14 years and has lived at their West Seneca residence for 2 years. She invited everyone to visit the residence and commented on how beautiful the flowers and sitting area was and what a pleasure it was for her to live there.
2008-06 & 2008-07 (continued)
Roger Amschler, 4585 Seneca Street, stated that he owns the property across from the proposed facility and he commented on the difficulty he has getting out of his driveway with the traffic on Seneca Street. Mr. Amschler thought that two driveways would add to the problem and hoped that the developer and Planning Board would give this consideration.
June Cotter, 56 Sky Hi Drive, commented on the water problem in the area that the town has not been able to resolve. She was also concerned about the heavy traffic and the use of Sky Hi Drive as a cut through from Center Road to Seneca Street. Mrs. Cotter further questioned where the main entrance would be and if there would be any access from Sky Hi Drive.
Chairman Niederpruem responded that the main entrance was on Seneca Street and there would not be any access from Sky Hi Drive.
Craig Dulack, 4580 Seneca Street, commented on the water problem and thought the proposed development would increase the problem. He was also concerned about the project decreasing his property value.
Peg McPherson, 187 Sky Hi Drive, stated that this was a residential area and she did not understand why the town would allow a zoning change for this property.
Ed Boyarski, 42 Sky Hi Drive, questioned why the town would consider taking residential property off the tax rolls to provide senior housing that would not pay taxes. He thought the property should remain at its existing zoning and someone would eventually build on it and pay taxes.
Jeannine Watson, 4754 Seneca Street, stated that she had attended many town meetings in the past trying to keep Seneca Street residential and country like. She thought that allowing this zoning change would create a domino effect and there would be other changes to follow.
Mr. Franasiak stated that they were interested in the residents’ concerns and would try to find a way to mitigate them. He welcomed everyone to visit their recently completed project in Wheatfield to see how it interacted within that community. Mr. Franasiak further suggested holding a meeting at Town Hall for the residents to learn more about the project.
Motion by Greenan, seconded by Mendola, to table this item pending notification by the Town Attorney’s Office that they are in receipt of the required information to provide the Town Board with a detailed response and determination on these applications.
2008-06 & 2008-07 (continued)
On the question, Chairman Niederpruem questioned if this tabling motion would trigger the proper mechanism to enable them to garner all the information and do the coordinated review of the project.
Mr. Reilly stated that his office was authorized to do the SEQR review, but he needed additional copies of the site plans from both the applicants.
Motion by Greenan, seconded by Rathmann, to adjourn the meeting at 9:50 P.M.
PATRICIA C. DEPASQUALE, RMC/CMC